Why did Hurricane Sandy take such an unusual track into New Jersey?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:33 PM GMT on October 31, 2012

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We're used to seeing hurricane-battered beaches and flooded cities in Florida, North Carolina, and the Gulf Coast. But to see these images from the Jersey Shore and New York City in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is a shocking experience. New Jersey only rarely gets hit by hurricanes because it lies in a portion of the coast that doesn't stick out much, and is too far north. How did this happen? How was a hurricane able to move from southeast to northwest at landfall, so far north, and so late in hurricane season? We expect hurricanes to move from east to west in the tropics, where the prevailing trade winds blow that direction. But the prevailing wind direction reverses at mid-latitudes, flowing predominately west-to-east, due to the spin of the Earth. Hurricanes that penetrate to about Florida's latitude usually get caught up in these westerly winds, and are whisked northeastwards, out to sea. However, the jet stream, that powerful band of upper-atmosphere west-to-east flowing air, has many dips and bulges. These troughs of low pressure and ridges of high pressure allow winds at mid-latitudes to flow more to the north or to the south. Every so often, a trough in the jet stream bends back on itself when encountering a ridge of high pressure stuck in place ahead of it. These "negatively tilted" troughs have winds that flow from southeast to northwest. It is this sort of negatively tilted trough that sucked in Sandy and allowed the hurricane to take such an unusual path into New Jersey.


Figure 1. Inlet section of Atlantic City, N.J., after Hurricane Sandy. Image credit: 6 ABC Action News.

The 1903 Vagabond Hurricane
The only other hurricane to hit New Jersey since 1851 besides Sandy was the 1903 Category 1 Vagabond Hurricane. According to Wikipedia, the Vagabond Hurricane caused heavy damage along the New Jersey coast ($180 million in 2006 dollars.) The hurricane killed 57 people, and endangered the life of President Theodore Roosevelt, who was sailing on a yacht near Long Island, NY, when the hurricane hit. However, the Vagabond Hurricane hit in September, when the jet stream is typically weaker and farther to the north. It is quite extraordinary that Sandy was able to hit New Jersey in late October, when the jet stream is typically stronger and farther south, making recurvature to the northeast much more likely than in September.


Figure 2. The path of the 1903 Vagabond Hurricane, the only other hurricane to hit New Jersey since 1851.

The blocking ridge that steered Sandy into New Jersey
A strong ridge of high pressure parked itself over Greenland beginning on October 20, creating a "blocking ridge" that prevented the normal west-to-east flow of winds over Eastern North America. Think of the blocking ridge like a big truck parked over Greenland. Storms approaching from the west (like the fall low pressure system that moved across the U.S. from California to Pennsylvania last week) or from the south (Hurricane Sandy) were blocked from heading to the northeast. Caught in the equivalent of an atmospheric traffic jam, the two storms collided over the Northeast U.S., combined into one, and are now waiting for the truck parked over Greenland to move. The strength of the blocking ridge, as measured by the strength of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), was quite high--about two standard deviations from average, something that occurs approximately 5% of the time. When the NAO is in a strong negative phase, we tend to have blocking ridges over Greenland.


Figure 3. Jet stream winds at a pressure of 300 mb on October 29, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy approached the coast of New Jersey. Note that the wind direction over New Jersey (black arrows) was from the southeast, due to a negatively tilted trough of low pressure over the Eastern U.S. caused by a strong blocking ridge of high pressure over Greenland. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

Arctic sea ice loss can cause blocking ridges
Blocking ridges occur naturally, but are uncommon over Greenland this time of year. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, blocking near the longitude of Greenland (50°W) only occurs about 2% of the time in the fall. These odds rise to about 6% in winter and spring. As I discussed in an April post, Arctic sea ice loss tied to unusual jet stream patterns, three studies published in the past year have found that the jet stream has been getting stuck in unusually strong blocking patterns in recent years. These studies found that the recent record decline in Arctic sea ice could be responsible, since this heats up the pole, altering the Equator-to-pole temperature difference, forcing the jet stream to slow down, meander, and get stuck in large loops. The 2012 Arctic sea ice melt season was extreme, with sea ice extent hitting a record lows. Could sea ice loss have contributed to the blocking ridge that steered Sandy into New Jersey? It is possible, but we will need to much more research on the subject before we make such a link, as the studies of sea ice loss on jet stream patterns are so new. The author of one of the new studies, Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers, had this say in a recent post by Andy Revkin in his Dot Earth blog: "While it’s impossible to say how this scenario might have unfolded if sea-ice had been as extensive as it was in the 1980s, the situation at hand is completely consistent with what I’d expect to see happen more often as a result of unabated warming and especially the amplification of that warming in the Arctic."

Jeff Masters

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I'd like to see signs put up in the areas impacted by Sandy's storm surge which indicate the height of the water at it's peak.. this would be a great reminder to folks in the area when faced with another potential surge event. This shouldn't be too expensive and would be a good reality check for the locals...
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Quoting Evan3457:
Live in Brooklyn in flood zone B, so didn't evacuate. Flood Zone A ends about 1/2 mile from my house. Flood waters got within about 1/10th mile south of my building Monday night. Zone B supposed to be flooded only in Cat 2 storms or above.

It's not correct to say "suppose to flood only in Cat 2." That is the area that is estimated to flood for a hypothetical, average Cat2 storm. It's for planning purposes only. Every storm is different, and surge forecasts will be tailored to that exact storm. When an actual storm threatens, the areas that are "suppose to" get water will be those lower than the forecasts surge level for that specific storm, which may be similar to the flood zones.
Quoting Evan3457:

My confusion is that new scale showing surge threat a 5.6 or 5.8 out of 6. If that's right, shouldn't all of zone B flooded, and also some of zone C?

No. Threat is not a height, it's a combination of coverage and height. More indicative of the number of properties that might be affected, not how high the water will be.
Quoting Evan3457:

I was reading here and those numbers scared me, yet evacuating B was never even mentioned. How valid is that new scale? Is it experimental? Will it be revised after Sandy?

That surge threat is more of an index than an actual scale. When planning to evacuate, one should make a risk-based decision taking into account the actual elevation range of surge forecasted (remember to add in tides on top of surge!) and the elevation of the property in question. If surge is forecasted at 6-10ft and will occur at high tide of +2.0ft, that means anything at 8-12ft of elevation could flood. Personal decisions should be made according to that information, not an index that is more the storm as a whole.
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714. JLPR2
Hmm...
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Largo, I was pinpointing the winds also, because of the 4 hurricanes I have been through the winds were the issue, not the water, But that on the east coast of Florida
yes i think we are programmed to look for the winds over the years huh..after sandy im going to stop doing that lol..im 40 feet above sea level and 4 miles from the coast..im not so sure..given high winds, that im as safe as i used to think i am....sandy was a wake up call and a huge Lesson for all of us huh
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Quoting LargoFl:
you know its funny..I..watched and followed that storm for days and days, me myself, i kept concentrating on the WINDS, yes they were saying it would have a monsterous storm surge, yet me myself..i kept watching the winds..im thinking, so did the people up there..never in a million years did they think the whole ocean would come in..neither did I
Largo, I was pinpointing the winds also, because of the 4 hurricanes I have been through the winds were the issue, not the water, But that's on the east coast of Florida
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North America Sandy death toll rises to 'at least 76'
Last updated Thu 1 Nov 2012

The of number people in North America that died as a result of Sandy has risen to at least 76, Reuters reported.
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6032
Quoting indianrivguy:


not really, the fact that Ike came in to the north of Galveston had everything to do with the low death count. Had it come in 25-30 miles south, Galveston, and all the folks that listened to their Mayor would likely be dead.

I agree with both of you. The sea wall did work. It blocked the waves that would have destroyed the structures people were in. Also, yes, Galveston was lucky Ike turned or the death toll would have been far higher since the worst wind and surge went further north. Structures would have been destroyed despite the protection from the sea wall. I think Bolivar Peninsula was toast either way.

Personally, I would have left the island and not taken my chances. The island flooded anyway--seawall or not. A flood like that leaves people helpless against whatever comes on top of it.
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Quoting zschmiez:


Can you point to a source that indicates 1-min sustained winds over land of 74 mph? I've seen plenty of GUSTS over 74, but as we all know, gusts do not a hurricane make.

But it does sound like TS warning should have been in place.

As is typical with most land-falling systems, the maximum sustained winds are rarely sampled by the course network of meteorological stations. The winds also diminish rapidly once they are influenced by the friction of the coastline. The current estimate of wind field from Hwind follows that thinking, showing the hurricane-force winds only occurring right at the coastline, then diminishing.
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you know its funny..I..watched and followed that storm for days and days, me myself, i kept concentrating on the WINDS, yes they were saying it would have a monsterous storm surge, yet me myself..i kept watching the winds..im thinking, so did the people up there..never in a million years did they think the whole ocean would come in..neither did I
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Quoting guygee:
I guess if the NHC pronounces a storm 'extra-tropical', then it is de facto extra-tropical regardless of the scientific data. End of story.
I am done.


For most purposes in the U.S. (and even other countries), it is the prerogative of the NOAA/NHC to determine the best track of tropical/subtropical systems in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean. The preliminary track data from the NHC remains the best-available, official data until the typical post-season re-analysis.
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Ok,I've said my piece,and not 180 degree change from my quote,more of a 90 degree change,still think the media wastes way too much time showing us the conditions rather then educating the public.Glad to hear your neighbors are up on surges,but I still think an enormous amount of people are ignorant of the what storms and storm surge can do to a coastline.
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Quoting bappit:
Things are progressing. Shock, denial, anger, whining ...
bappit..... All of those things you stated will happen, whether it is a house fire, a police beating, a celebrity photo, or a tremendously destructive storm.. My humble opinion.. Whether there were hurricane warnings or not, There was so much publicity(and days ahead of the event) that the majority of people had to be aware of what was coming.. I don't think the warning or not status was an issue....... We all knew
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Have been reading for a few years. Never joined or posted until after Sandy. Live in Brooklyn in flood zone B, so didn't evacuate. Flood Zone A ends about 1/2 mile from my house. Flood waters got within about 1/10th mile south of my building Monday night. Zone B supposed to be flooded only in Cat 2 storms or above. Not surprised all of zone A was flooded as Sandy was strong cat 1 on landfall. Large windfield effect and sheer size of storm accounts for partial flooding of zone B.

My confusion is that new scale showing surge threat a 5.6 or 5.8 out of 6. If that's right, shouldn't all of zone B flooded, and also some of zone C? I was reading here and those numbers scared me, yet evacuating B was never even mentioned. How valid is that new scale? Is it experimental? Will it be revised after Sandy?
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Quoting guygee:
What are these "complicated sets of reasoning" that you mention? C'mon, let us in on the secret very complex and serious-minded reasoning, I think we can handle it here.


The fact that it was a hybrid storm, social considerations for changing between warning types as the landfall forecast oscillated between tropical/extratropical, the combined thoughts of multiple affected NWS offices that are taken into account each NHC conference call. I believe these topics were also covered more in depth by statements released by HPC/NHC.
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Quoting LargoFl:
wow Northwestern Canada..start preparing..another Monster storm up there...........................................


More like Southern coastal Alaska should take note, but these bombs are pretty common in the Gulf of Alaska. Might get a bit windy in the southern Yukon, but that's about it. Not much up there really. A 7.7 earthquake in Haida Gwai on the weekend produced not only zero deaths, but zero injuries! The area has appropriate coastal construction (i.e. no houses on the beach).
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Quoting NEwxguy:


No,Im not going to sit here and blame the media,thats too easy,they can send all the reporters down to the beaches they want.It is a society thing,the majority of people who build on the shores are only concerned with the view,I would bet only a handful of people have any remote idea,what a storm surge can do.We just want to live on the ocean,that's why our coastline is packed from Maine to Florida and beyond.
well that's a 180 from your first quote. I would disagree that most on the coast aren't aware of the affects of storm surge or a hurricane. I've lived on the coast for over 10 years I know my neighbors and myself fully understand and are prepared to lose everything that's just a fact of life on the coast.
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Quoting Pipejazz:


Thanks Nea for stepping up for Science. BTW apropos is the Issac Asimov quote...Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' Newsweek 1.21.1980.
LOL..Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
George Bernard Shaw

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Quoting hulazigzag:
seriously? If you live on the coast and don't understand storm surge your an ignorant fool. You are living in the danger zone understand your situation. This is the exact problem with our society. One person doesn't understand their environment due to ignorance and you blame a news organization for not explaining it to them. Get real.


No,Im not going to sit here and blame the media,thats too easy,they can send all the reporters down to the beaches they want.It is a society thing,the majority of people who build on the shores are only concerned with the view,I would bet only a handful of people have any remote idea,what a storm surge can do.We just want to live on the ocean,that's why our coastline is packed from Maine to Florida and beyond.
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Quoting AussieStorm:


Why did the media start calling it "Superstorm" Sandy, Cause the NHC stopped calling it a Hurricane and stopped issuing Hurricane and Tropical storm warnings.

The media started calling it "superstorm" Sandy because that's what the media does, they come up with terms or follow the popular hyped term that people come up with.

I went to the NHC to see if Sandy was still a Hurricane and found she was but no watches or warnings cause they had passed Sandy over to the NWS. Why did they hand it over to the NWS to issue watches and warnings?

The NHC is part of the NWS. When a system transitions to extra-tropical, responsibility for issuing advisories becomes the role of the HPC. This is by NWS policy.

Did the NHC stopping issuing these watches and warning make people become complacent?

No. Why would the NHC do that?

Which sounds more foreboding Category 1 Hurricane Sandy or "Superstorm" Sandy.

Depends on who you ask. I've heard some complain that calling it a Cat1 at landfall would make people think of Irene and not a nor'easter. I've heard some say the opposite and claim that people ignore nor'easters but would listen to hurricanes. I doubt either is 100% correct because regardless of category, the impacts of Sandy were particularly rare for the impacted area.

Did the NHC under-forecast the storm-tide? I remember seeing they predicted 6'-11' for New York/Battery Park.


This is a complicated question that has caused much confusion. Typically in the gulf you will see many gauges reported to the public on the NAVD88 or NGVD29 datum. These would be datums that you typically have your home surveyed to for insurance purposes. In some areas, this is a rough approximation for sea level (but not always). Many tide gauges in the NE seem to be reported to the public in Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW), which is a datum very similar to a 19yr average of low tide. These numbers are not the same, and many times are different by 2-4ft.

At the Battery Park, NYC, NY, gauge, the average level before Sandy was about 2.7ft, and tidal swings went from about 0.0-5.0ft. Storm tide is total water level, so ~2.0ft from tides plus ~9.0ft of storm surge is ~11.0ft of total water level, all in the NAVD88 datum. Because Battery Park is typically reported in MLLW, that ~11.0ft of storm tide converts to ~13.5-14.0ft on the gauge.
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http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/31/dems-try -to-push-climate-change-issue-in-wake-sandy-but-so me-scientists/#

OK...crucify me...but its a NOAA scientist and a good article about the intellectual struggle that this presents
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Quoting NEwxguy:
I saw a few bloggers that kept saying this storm was being overhyped, I think it was underhyped or better way of putting it hyped in the wrong way. the average person out there has no concept of storm surge.You tell them there is going to be a 6 to 8 ft storm surge,they have no idea what that means as far as impact on the shore and what that amount of water can do.
Broadcasters should have had someone on the tv explaining what a storm surge will do and the effects of such an event and why people need to get out.Instead of showing the shoreline and the how conditions are going downhill,how about showing what he effects will do,but thats not entertaining enough,its better to show a reporter standing out in the conditions,being blow around.We do a lousy job of alerting the public on what may happen when it hits.
seriously? If you live on the coast and don't understand storm surge your an ignorant fool. You are living in the danger zone understand your situation. This is the exact problem with our society. One person doesn't understand their environment due to ignorance and you blame a news organization for not explaining it to them. Get real.
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"No, a simple Cat 1 hurricane warning would not have cured it, because it caused a category 3 equivalent storm surge, and had a typical category 3 (~125mph) equivalent low pressure.


Therefore, it should have been warned as a category 3 equivalent storm.

Another reason some sort of two-tiered ranking system, like the split system that was never used properly from the OLD SS scale, needs to be emplimented for larger storms."



Well that is on us as "mets" (professional or not) because the NHC has clearly stated that SS is no longer a metric for hurricane strength.

- theres no such thing as hurricane-strength gusts
- theres no such thing (anymore) as category 1 storm with category 3 surge (unless theyve invented a surge scale...

Oh thats right, AOML did, and said it was 5.8/6 then dropped slightly to 5.6 / 5.
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Quoting Matthias1967:


That happens with every second tropical storm, it happened f.ex. with Tropical storm Lee last year, IRRC. So where's the problem. I do not agree: NOAA did the wrong call. IMHO people died because they underestimated the danger because of there weren't hurrican/tropical storm warnings. People made the same misjudgement which made by Mr. Bloomberg (though his advisors might have figured it out at least before the event and still too late.
I have no idea what "f.ex" and "IIRC" mean. I see no correlation between this storm and Lee.

The NWS does not cause weather to hit coastlines. They forecast it. Doesn't matter what kind, the warnings, surge forecast, all of it was out there. I do not blame them for the effects of this storm. The only persons who underestimated the danger were those who did not believe what was forecasted could happen. I'm going to repost this, and that will be all I have to say on this subject.

"Consider the public confusion that would have occurred if widespread east coast hurricane/tropical storm watches or warnings were issued and then got canceled because Sandy transitioned earlier than it did. No question NOAA/NWS made the right call."
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
I don't see what the discussion about the NHC choices was.
Things were set into motion that could not be undone.

They made a decision. The warnings about the system were still disseminated, and frankly, its a coin toss as to whether hurricane warnings or high wind warnings were necessary....but either way, does it really matter?



Nope. People were getting blitzed with news coverage of 'Frankenstorm' from the media. They got all the details, such as expected 80 mph winds at landfall. Landfall in NJ, huge windfield and potentially damaging storm surge in NYC, bizzards in the mountains etc.

All that info came from the NHC, so what's all the fuss about?
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I saw a few bloggers that kept saying this storm was being overhyped, I think it was underhyped or better way of putting it hyped in the wrong way. the average person out there has no concept of storm surge.You tell them there is going to be a 6 to 8 ft storm surge,they have no idea what that means as far as impact on the shore and what that amount of water can do.
Broadcasters should have had someone on the tv explaining what a storm surge will do and the effects of such an event and why people need to get out.Instead of showing the shoreline and the how conditions are going downhill,how about showing what he effects will do,but thats not entertaining enough,its better to show a reporter standing out in the conditions,being blow around.We do a lousy job of alerting the public on what may happen when it hits.
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Quoting NEwxguy:


Yeh,you might be right,but when you see wind speeds forecast over 70 mph,with gusts to 100,common sense should take over and tell you there is going to be a lot of damage going on,no matter what the warnings.
With our nor'easters up here,when they tell us winds may gust over 70,you better take that seriously.Numbers should be what counts,not what warnings are up.


Members of this blog understand, it is the general public; the ones you meet at the store during the peak of storm preparations who say "sure is busy, what is going on?"
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Quoting TomballTXPride:

I like it, too. At least at the others places I blog, there is usually two sides of the story, both sides bringing commentary in and then allowing users to decide for themselves upon what to believe. Not here. Here, one is ostracized for allowing anything to be introduced into the equation that doesn't suggest man is solely changing the climate. Oh well. Just an observation.
Quoting Neapolitan:
Science isn't a matter of opinion or belief. It's not like religion, where people can hear "both sides" and then make up their minds based on what they think works best for them. No, science is based on empirical research--and that research quite clearly demonstrates both that the climate is rapidly changing and that it's doing so primarily (if not mostly) because of our burning of fossil fuels. No one is "ostracized" here for implying otherwise, but they are repeatedly challenged to provide scientific evidence to support the things they say, and they are often ridiculed for repeatedly failing to provide it.

There may be "two sides" to the climate change issue--but, scientifically-speaking, only one of those sides is correct. The other side is just talking nonsense.

(NOTE: I am not saying there are no honest skeptics--but those honest skeptics only disagree about the amount of warming, not whether it's happening.)


Thanks Nea for stepping up for Science. BTW apropos is the Issac Asimov quote...Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' Newsweek 1.21.1980.
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688. RayT
Hey, I noticed a system with a lot of spin just south of the Azores. I know the SST's are a little low for development there, but if the system floats south or west it could potentially be a problem.


I dont know if this is a warm or cold core system (hopefully cold core cuz they take longer to develop)

can anyone confirm what the forcast is for this system?

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Quoting MahFL:
The main problem is the shock at all the damage. The other thing people can't quite understand is Sandy came ashore and plowed all the way to the Great Lakes. Most Hurricanes and North Easters skim the coast and then move away. And of course at the end of the day Sandy has indeed done historic damage to NJ/New York and proberbly many other places. Also the large number of people killed by falling trees shows they did not quite understand the danger they were in.
the
Quoting MahFL:
The main problem is the shock at all the damage. The other thing people can't quite understand is Sandy came ashore and plowed all the way to the Great Lakes. Most Hurricanes and North Easters skim the coast and then move away. And of course at the end of the day Sandy has indeed done historic damage to NJ/New York and proberbly many other places. Also the large number of people killed by falling trees shows they did not quite understand the danger they were in.
the shock is the most ridiculous part of it all. This storm was going to happen and another like it will happen again. If you live on the coast this is something you should be ready for.
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I see regular posters defending NHC while the victims and lurkers are bashing NHC... I got to go with NHC on this one. People should've been prepared and not listen to the others.
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684. MahFL
The main problem is the shock at all the damage. The other thing people can't quite understand is Sandy came ashore and plowed all the way to the Great Lakes. Most Hurricanes and North Easters skim the coast and then move away. And of course at the end of the day Sandy has indeed done historic damage to NJ/New York and proberbly many other places. Also the large number of people killed by falling trees shows they did not quite understand the danger they were in.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


There is a belief that the general public will take seriously a hurricane warning versus a gale warning, this is somewhat validated by NHC's own actions. They were concerned that the forecast was for post tropical prior to landfall and the removing of hurricane/tropical storm warnings would lead people to not take the storm seriously.


Yeh,you might be right,but when you see wind speeds forecast over 70 mph,with gusts to 100,common sense should take over and tell you there is going to be a lot of damage going on,no matter what the warnings.
With our nor'easters up here,when they tell us winds may gust over 70,you better take that seriously.Numbers should be what counts,not what warnings are up.
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Quoting Barefootontherocks:
Whoever was responsible for that bad judgement within NOAA should resign as well.

Consider the public confusion that would have occurred if widespread east coast hurricane/tropical storm watches or warnings were issued and then got canceled because Sandy transitioned earlier than it did. No question NOAA/NWS made the right call.


That happens with every second tropical storm, it happened f.ex. with Tropical storm Lee last year, IRRC. So where's the problem. I do not agree: NOAA did the wrong call. IMHO people died because they underestimated the danger because of there weren't hurrican/tropical storm warnings. People made the same misjudgement which made by Mr. Bloomberg (though his advisors might have figured it out at least before the event and still too late.
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@Grothar re: insurance

Well, for homeowners, all rate changes must be filed with each states insurance regulator. There must also be justification in those rates (performance, new science, etc...). So a policy in Illinois wont pay for NJ losses. Companies cant simply pass the buck. A little easier to do for commercial policies. But companies risk not being competitive.

And most states that are not coastal, rarely allow rate increases more than a few % points. 2011 T-storm season had more affect.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Why are people still b****'in about the NHC's decision?.I'm really annoyed get over it all ready that was days ago and Sandy has moved on.


hmmm, a lot of folks here were worried about you, and the first post you make upon your return was to slam "warmists" whatever the hell they are. You slammed those who cared about you, folks that didn't care about anything else but the safety of you and yours. So honestly, your "annoyance" level doesn't really concern me anymore.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


There is a belief that the general public will take seriously a hurricane warning versus a gale warning, this is somewhat validated by NHC's own actions. They were concerned that the forecast was for post tropical prior to landfall and the removing of hurricane/tropical storm warnings would lead people to not take the storm seriously.
and if those idiots don't prepare or pay attention it's their fault no one else's. this is the whiny titty baby theory we need to hold people's hands through everything a fundamental flaw in today's society.
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Long way out, but interesting...
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Quoting BosGuy:
As a layperson in the NE, I can't see what could possibly have been done differently or better if we had received full-on hurricane warnings.

First, many around here (I'm in MA) regard hurricanes as something of a joke, because so many dire predictions have fizzled out. The worst effects of Irene in New England came from rainfall, and Sandy was known not to be much of a rainmaker in the Northeast. So hurricane warnings would have been met with a few eye-rolls.


Unfortunately, that's the nature of the beast.

You guys don't get monster storms very often up there, so you aren't used to being directly impacted by these sort of "everybody take cover or run just in case" type situations.

Katrina and Rita were both like this, because the storms were so strong, and the forecasters weren't sure where they were going, so a LOT of people evacuated in areas that didn't actually end up with a "life or limb" threat, even as others, overconfident in their location or man-made protections, stayed behind. Unfortunately, because of an accident in evacuations for Rita, there were about as many evacuation deaths as their were storm deaths.


I don't expect these problems to go away until size, intensity, and track forecasts improve significantly more beyond today's techniques. At the rate of improvement over the past 20 years or so, I think it will take another 20 years to cut this over/under-prepare "eye roll" problem in half.


Second, most people expect hurricanes to have fairly tight windfields. Upon learning Sandy would land in NJ rather than CT or Long Island, many people assumed we would receive almost nothing of note. The local mets really had to strain their voices to convince people that this was not a normal, tight hurricane.

All that said, despite the hype and warnings I still believe that it was hard to understand what we were in for. I saw very different windspeed predictions on the local news vs. here in the commnts vs. an interactive tool on the Boston Globe's website that promised no more than 30 mph winds per the NWS in my town.


To be honest with you, between Dr. Masters and the "forum consensus," this site is almost always going to beat your local mets in predicting the intensity, because you have many lifetimes worth of experience watching them, and people here aren't limited by political agenda.

I was not here for this storm, but people here, including myself, will tell you where they think a storm is going and why, and how strong they expect it to be for various areas, and why, because we care about the human life and property aspect, and we care about the scientific aspect. Unfortunately, news and government agencies are sometimes compromised by the politics or "paper economics" of the situation.


The windspeed probability cone also understated the damage. Part of the problem is that there was no similar storm in recent memory that anybody could compare Sandy to, so it was hard to visualize its strength.


This is a flaw in the SS hurricane wind scale which has always existed, it turns out it's actually horrible at predicting both the wind damage and storm surge aspects of large storms.

This season is as good a reason as any, because of Isaac and Sandy, for some more evaluations to be put into alternative ranking or warning systems to better inform the public.

However, I'd also say that the TV mets spent an awful lot of airtime harping on the meteorological uniqueness of the storm, and some of that time would probably had better been spent giving more specific examples of potential threats by locality.

Nobody I know expected to turn on the TV and see photos of Katrina-like destruction on the Jersey Shore, and I don't think a simple Cat 1 Hurricane warning would have cured that.



No, a simple Cat 1 hurricane warning would not have cured it, because it caused a category 3 equivalent storm surge, and had a typical category 3 (~125mph) equivalent low pressure.


Therefore, it should have been warned as a category 3 equivalent storm.

Another reason some sort of two-tiered ranking system, like the split system that was never used properly from the OLD SS scale, needs to be emplimented for larger storms.
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wow Northwestern Canada..start preparing..another Monster storm up there...........................................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
I don't see what the discussion about the NHC choices was.
Things were set into motion that could not be undone.

They made a decision. The warnings about the system were still disseminated, and frankly, its a coin toss as to whether hurricane warnings or high wind warnings were necessary....but either way, does it really matter?


I think it matters in insurance deductables is what I understand..
And they were waved by at least one state..NY..
It would mean alot alot to me if they were waved here in Florida after such an event..
Not trying to disagree with you just putting it out there for discussion.. :)
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Quoting NEwxguy:
Im confused,why does it matter whether there were tropical storm warnings,hurricane warnings or high wind warnings,they had been broadcasting the wind speeds 50-70 mph with gusts possibly 90-100.Isn't that all you need to know?Those wind speeds tell me all I need to know to prepare.


There is a belief that the general public will take seriously a hurricane warning versus a gale warning, this is somewhat validated by NHC's own actions. They were concerned that the forecast was for post tropical prior to landfall and the removing of hurricane/tropical storm warnings would lead people to not take the storm seriously.
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Quoting LargoFl:
IF..you did not prepare, if you didnt leave when asked, its NOT the NHC's fault period..for days and days the NHC said..a very dangerous storm was coming and even some here said it was all hype huh...well BOOM came the wake up call..next time..listen and prepare..simple as that like we do here along the gulf coast..if your a mile or more away from the water..its not far enough..leave..no more needs to be said..it is UP to EACH person..to make his/her own choices in a situation like this..not the NHC or the government..its up to YOU every time
well said.
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just what they need more rain and wind..GFS at 48 hours..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Quoting jskweather:
What are you talking about. The Galveston seawall saved it from IKE. Where as Gilcrest on the Bolivar Penninsula with no sea wall was essnetially washed away.


not really, the fact that Ike came in to the north of Galveston had everything to do with the low death count. Had it come in 25-30 miles south, Galveston, and all the folks that listened to their Mayor would likely be dead.
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Im confused,why does it matter whether there were tropical storm warnings,hurricane warnings or high wind warnings,they had been broadcasting the wind speeds 50-70 mph with gusts possibly 90-100.Isn't that all you need to know?Those wind speeds tell me all I need to know to prepare.
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Quoting DFWjc:
So this guy I work with has been going on an on about a lady who posted a youtube video about chemtrails and chembombs that made Hurricane Sandy go North as supposed to curving out to sea. I told him he's nuts but he linked me to it Link Could someone please explain what these are, I told him there's no was anyone can move a system as big as Sandy was. TIA
please don't add to the retardation. The people who believe this are crazy.
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7-day for the Tampa Bay area.................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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